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Ohio schools to receive 1% increase in state funding

Kasich talks budget, honors local charter school

COLUMBUS — Gov. John Kasich on Tuesday said K-12 schools should expect a 1 percent increase on average in their state funding over the next two years.

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Kasich

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He made the point while honoring seven traditional public, charter, and private schools like the Toledo School for the Arts to make the point schools are already capable of innovating — even when it means being honored with a plaque instead of a check.

“We have a very tough budget,” Mr. Kasich said. “Education remains a priority, but the increase in K-12 funding will be 1 percent in our budget. We don’t have any more money. But we have had a consistent increase in education [in funding] over the last six years. …

“If we get more revenue, then, you know, education will obviously be one of our priorities,” he said. “It’s frankly always our top priority in this state.”

The governor next week will send his final two-year budget proposal to lawmakers. He is expected to propose an additional $200 million over the biennium, bringing total K-12 annual spending to about $10.6 billion by the second year. But much of the debate will go beyond the total dollar figure to how the formula will be fashioned to distribute that money among more than 600 school districts.

He said public colleges and universities will likely be in much the same boat.

“The challenge that we have is that we have slow economic growth…,” Mr. Kasich said. “A lot of states had to go and cut their budget over the last year. We have not had to do that.”

The Republican governor presented plaques to six individual schools and school districts that succeeded in integrating college work, professional internships, and, in the case of the Toledo School for the Arts, paid theatrical performances in the community — without sacrificing academic performance.

“I appreciate every opportunity that comes my way,” said Jennasis Savage, a Toledo senior studying film production, theater arts, and dance. “I wake up, most of the time, excited to go to school because anything can happen on any given day at art school.”

Doug Mead, the school’s director, noted that only about a quarter of the school’s roughly 700 students are likely to go into the arts field. But they walk out of the school with a developed critical thought process, he said.

The Toledo School for the Arts, a high-performing charter school sponsored by Bowling Green State University, opened in 1999 to offer courses in music, dance, theater, and visual arts in addition to college preparatory academic courses.

“Our goal was to make all our students employable, to integrate arts with academics,” said Debra Calabrese, a founding faculty member and the school’s first dance teacher. “These were the kids who were slammed into their lockers because they weren’t the football players, they weren’t the cheerleaders, they weren’t what was so-called ‘cool’ in school. … It saved their lives because they didn’t feel like the outcast.”

K-12 schools did suffer severe cuts in the governor’s first two-year spending plan, primarily because of the evaporation of one-time federal stimulus dollars that had temporarily shored up their budgets. The state opted not to replace those funds with state dollars at that time, although state funding for K-12 has increased in budgets since then.

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.

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